While the immersive exhibition Polnarêves is in full swing, Michel Polnareff is back in stores. In Polnareff sings Polnareff, the artist revisits twelve of his titles in a piano-voice version. The perfect opportunity to return in songs to this legend of French variety. Between provocation and genius.
The doll that says no (1966)
We are in the mid 60’s and Michel Polnareff plays in the streets of Montmartre. Introduced to Lucien Morisse director of Europe 1 programs and above all director of AZ records, the young Polnareff had the nerve to ask for a few conditions to sign his contract: to record in London, with Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin). Condition accepted. Not bad for a start ! Polnareff records in London The doll that says nowith Jean Bouchety (arranger ofEddy Mitchell). Barely 22 years old, the young Michel meets the triumph. The first of a long list. What a pleasure to rediscover it in Polnareff sings Polnareff !
Love Me, Please Love Me (1966)
With Serge Gainsbourg and Jacques Dutronc, Michel Polnareff, is the only French artist of the time to be able to compete, artistically, with the Anglo-Saxon production. With its legendary piano notes in the introduction and its harmonies reminiscent of Georgia On My Mind of Ray Charles, this title becomes a classic immediately. While the songs of the time use the familiarity, this song about the misfortunes of a misunderstood lover of his beautiful, she prefers the familiarity. Passionate about English pop, Polnareff does not hesitate to use Franglais. Polnareff will say of this song ” For Love me please love me, we introduced a not very in tune piano, three singers, two drums, violins into the orchestration and we took special care of the introduction. There is more than the introduction which is neat. This first album, a rarity for the time, was distributed in the USA, despite being unaccustomed to spotting French albums. Guarantee of quality. It’s just a test run.
The Laze Ball (1968)
After the phenomenal success of the first album, Polnareff, who had become the figurehead of a generation in search of freedom, swept the yéyés with this grandiloquent title. Legend has it that the song was recorded with candles as the only lights. This is Pierre Delanoe who attacks the words. Polnareff asks him to include the word Laze in the lyrics. The Laze Ball, it is the story of a commoner, condemned to death, awaiting his execution after having killed the future groom of a well-born young girl with whom he was madly in love and who was preparing, unfortunately, on the orders of his parents, to marry a man of his rank. Coincidence or not, Breton songs retrace this same kind of story, in particular a gwerz where it is a question of a count of Laz (Time passed), not very far from the origins of the mother of Michel Polnareff, Breton. Shunned by the radios reproaching him for this theme of death, too dark and therefore preferring the B side, There’s only one hair, The Laze Ball everything from a masterpiece. ” The melody with an ample and elegant step, the dialogue of the classical organ and the electric bass, the atmosphere of the text half-Lawrence, half-Brontë, everything is magnificent and revolutionary. » : says Bertrand Dicale (Le Figaro, 2007). History has repaired this affront, fortunately.
cuddly soul (1968)
Still very influenced by the English pop of the time, cuddly soul did not however germinate in the head of Polnareff across the Channel. For some time now, Polnareff has discovered Marrakech and its famous luxury hotel, La Mamounia. It was during a stay in this place that the melody came to him. It reproduces or rather is inspired by the song of this bird which whistles marvelously in front of its window. Michel Polnareff will declare in the book polnaculte : “It’s the only time I’ve stolen the music from someone and I haven’t been attacked”. This song was adapted into English by Little Peggy March under the title, If You Loved Me.
I am a man (1970)
At the beginning of the 1970s, conservative society freed itself after May 68, but some did not support Polnareff’s eccentricities and attacked him physically, as in this concert where a man came on stage, hit him on the bottom stomach and calls him a “queer”. Shocked and tired of being seen like this, Polnareff, also exhausted by a gigantic tour, asks Pierre Delanoë to write him a song shouting loud and clear his heterosexuality and his love for women. It becomes I am a man.
Soundtrack by Megalomania (1970)
Like Gainsbourg, Michel Polnareff was also a composer of film music. For this soundtrack of Megalomania of Gerard Oury with Louis de Funes and Yves Montand, Polnareff is inspired by and parodies spaghetti western film music, which was very fashionable at the time. He will also Revenge of the Feathered Serpent by the same Gérard Oury. An album, The cinema of Michel Polnareff brings together the music written by Polnareff for the cinema.
We’ll all go to heaven (1972)
We are in 1972, Polnareff is about to triumph at the Olympia. In this singing tour, one song stands out. Polnareff asks his lyricist Jean-Loup Dabadie to write him a song with lyrics that people in the street would sing, walking together as one. The choirs are not the work of professionals, but of passers-by brought into the studio for the occasion. In addition, the voices were recorded with a microphone used as a lasso, which gives this very special atmosphere. The title was performed by Arsenik, Stomy Bugsy and Jane Fostin For the movie Bribery of Dominique Farrugia.
Letter to France (1978)
Polnareff has been exiled to the United States for several years now following various personal problems, the major one being with the French tax authorities. One day in a New York café, he hears a French song. Always attached to his country, despite his exile, nostalgia seizes him. Jean-Loup Dabadie is in charge of the text. Letter to France becomes a beautiful declaration of love from Polnareff to his country. A very poignant song, which the artist revisited in his latest album, in a magnificent piano-voice version.
Good Bye Marylou (1990)
Kama Sutra marks the return to grace of the Admiral, considered the artist’s most avant-garde album. Although suffering from a cataract causing him to gradually lose his sight, Polnareff monopolizes the bar of the Hôtel Royal Monceau where he lives. There every night, he sets up a studio for the voice recordings, the musicians being distributed in other studios, Abbey Road in particular for the strings. Jean-René Mariani, met recently, wrote him this song which may seem dated because it evokes the Minitel (device that those under 20 cannot know), a form of electronic directory before the hour. In this song, sentimental relationships are evoked through a screen. We are not so far from our time with social networks. Definitely this Michel, always ahead of his time!
The man in red (2018)
It’s been 25 years since Polnareff produced anything, his last studio album (Kama Sutra) dating from 1990. On December 17, 2015, Michel Polnareff proposed The man in redfirst single from an album, Finally, to be published in early 2016 (which will not be published until two years later). In this title, Polnareff evokes the loneliness of beings, much more present in our societies than it seems. This loneliness is all the more significant on the occasion of the end-of-year celebrations, which are supposed to be conducive to the happiness of being together. This man in red, usually celebrated cheerfully, has a hint of sadness in Polnareff’s voice.
I hope I have made you want to listen to this truly atypical artist of French song. Provocative, too much for some, Michel Polnareff, whom his fans call the Admiral, wrote, like Serge Gainsbourg, some of the most songs of French musical heritage. His exile in the United States may have tarnished his image, but he sits among the greatest. Do not hesitate to go to the side of the Palace (also a mythical place) to immerse yourself in the art of the great Polnareff.